Having lived with a chef for the past 12 years and running a bistro and catering business, food and food provenance is always a hot topic of conversation in Lucy Sinclair’s home.
When she and husband Eden and moved to Angus five years ago from Edinburgh, they were delighted to find themselves surrounded by agriculture, with food grown literally on the doorstep.
“Settling in the heart of a small rural community you really see how important it is to support the local food economy, not to mention the sustainability, health and taste benefits of eating locally produced food,” says Lucy, director of Sinclair’s Catering Ltd.
Lucy’s background is in event management so, following the move to Angus, she managed to combine being at home for their two wee boys with working in events as a freelance.
Eden, meanwhile, was hired as head chef and manager of the Drovers Inn in Memus and as private chef to the owner of Glenogil Sporting Estate, sparking an interest and creativity with game cooking.
With Eden busy at the restaurant and Lucy at home with the kids, she started looking at where to apply her skills.
“Surrounded by local producers, suppliers to the restaurant and chef friends, we loved the idea of bringing everyone together at an event to show off what Angus has to offer,” she says.
“It was a great opportunity to showcase the Drovers too, so Eden – now chef patron of Sinclair’s Larder in Edzell – agreed to host the event there. After running the idea past a few local chefs and producers, they jumped on board and I pretty much had a programme – all we needed was a date.”
That first Taste Angus was held in July 2014 on the lawn at the Drovers Inn, with a BBQ, 16 market stalls, a small tent for chef demonstrations, a local band playing and a bouncy castle for the kids.
“It was a gorgeous sunny day and nearly 1000 visitors came along,” Lucy recalls. “The feedback was fantastic – people loved dipping in and out of the demonstrations, relaxing on the lawn and enjoying good food and drink in such a lovely setting. The stallholders were happy too and were keen to return, so this gave us the confidence to make Taste Angus an annual event,” she continues.
Hugely supported from the outset by the food and drink sector at Angus Council, more and more local businesses were keen to become involved and by August 2016 the festival had outgrown the Drovers Inn and found a new home at Glamis Castle to offer visitors an authentic Scottish food experience.
“We loved having so much space to play with,” smiles Lucy. “The Food Theatre held 350 people instead of only 50 and we had some well known chefs on the programme. The market marquee tripled in size and we added new event features like the vintage afternoon tea tent, the Food Street of food vendors, the pop up restaurants and the festival bar. We also had a greater range of activities fo kids and added some field sports for a bit of fun for the older kids and adults.”
Lucy loves working with local businesses to bring together a memorable event together that would attract local communities and visitors from further afield. This year’s festival, on August 19 and 20, offers a feast of foodie treats from top chefs like Bake Off winner Candice Brown, MasterChef winners Jamie Scott and Gary MacLean, celebrity chef Nick Nairn and Jak O’Donnell of The Sisters Restaurant in Glasgow, talented local chefs including Adam Newth of The Tayberry Restaurant in Broughty Ferry and Graham Campbell of Castlehill Restaurant in Dundee, to tastings with a host of local producers and fun for all the family.
At the heart of it all will be a wealth of Angus produce Angus produce from succulent summer berries and the lovely preserves they are used for; in-season vegetables from market gardens; fresh seafood landed in Angus – wild salmon, sea trout and not forgetting the famous Arbroath smokies; the finest Angus beef and in-season game from the Angus glens. And don’t forget locally produced flavoured gin or locally distilled potato vodka.
All the hard work finally pays off for Lucy when the festival actually begins.
“I love the buzz in the food theatre when a chef is in full swing and enjoying a bit of banter with the audience,” she muses. “The tastes and smells where the pop ups are cooking up a storm; the artisan producers stalls providing a feast for the senses; and the relaxed festival vibe as visitors picnic on the lawn and listen to local bands.
“Families leaving with full tummies, smiling faces and exhausted kids – that’s when you know they’ve had a great day out.”
Recipes from Taste Angus local chefs
Arbroath pork belly, braised puy lentils, brambly apple and fennel purée by Adam Newth
For the pork belly
1kg of boneless pork belly with the skin on
200ml white wine
Sprig of thyme and sage
3 cloves of smashed garlic
Put the pork belly in a suitable sized roasting tray. Add the remaining ingredients to the tray and add water until the top of the belly is submerged.
Cover with foil and braise in the over for around 12 hours at 100C. Once cooked leave to cool before slicing portions.
Just before serving, to reheat the pork crisp up the skin in a non-stick pan with a little salt and oil then return to the oven at 180c to heat through.
For the lentils
100g diced carrots
100g diced onion
3tbs fennel seeds
Oil for cooking
200g puy lentils soaked overnight in water
All the remaining cooking liquid from the pork belly.
In a medium heat sweat down the carrots, onion, and fennel seeds together in a little oil. Add the lentils and the cooking liquid to the pan and top up with water as required.
Slowly braise the lentils on the stove top until they are soft but still holding shape. Season with salt and white pepper to finish.
For the fennel and apple purée
2x heads of fennel sliced
150g salted butter
1 star anise
2x bramble apples peeled and sliced.
Juice of 1 lemon
Sweat down the fennel in a pan over a medium heat in 50g of the butter with the star anise. Add the apples and lemon to the pan and cook gently until the apples have broken down.
Transfer the mix to a blender, add the remaining butter and purée until smooth.
Decorate with a slice of fennel if desired.
Glen Prosen estate wild venison with parsnip puree, gnocchi, baby vegetables & blackberry jus by Eden Sinclair
2 Maris Piper potatoes
120g pasta flour
120g plain flour
Salt and pepper
2 egg yolks
40g grated parmesan
Sprig of rosemary, chopped
Sprig of thyme, chopped
120g of butter
Olive oil for frying
500ml veal or beef stock
1 punnet of blackberries
1 teaspoon redcurrant jelly
Selection of mixed veg
6oz venison loin medallions
For the gnocchi:
Bake the potatoes in salt for 1 hour at 160C. Scoop out the inside of the potato and mix in the pasta flour, the plain flour and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the egg yolks, parmesan and chopped rosemary and thyme to the mixture.
Mix to combine all the ingredients; roll, shape and cut the gnocchi. Blanch in seasoned boiling water for 3 minutes or until the gnocchi floats to the top of the water. Crispen up the gnocchi in a pan of butter and olive oil, then ready to serve.
For the jus:
Reduce the veal/beef stock in a pot with the blackberries until glossy. Add the redcurrant jelly.
For the baby vegetables:
Blanch the vegetables in boiling water until tender. Toss in some melted butter and serve.
For the venison:
Seal venison in a pan on each side for approximately 3 minutes. Leave to rest and then serve.
Strawberry jelly by Graham Campbell
300g of puréed strawberries
15g of sugar
3 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water
300ml of champagne
10g of sugar
3 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water.
Place the strawberry purée and sugar in a pan and heat to 60°C. Add the soaked gelatine to the strawberry mixture and leave to dissolve.
Seal the bottom of the metal rings with cling film and place on a tray. Pour 25ml of the strawberry mixture into the rings and refrigerate until the jelly is set.
For the champagne jelly, repeat this process only using champagne instead of strawberry purée, and just 10g of sugar.
Once set, pour 25ml of the champagne mixture on top of the strawberry jelly and refrigerate to set. Continue until you are ready to add the last layer of champagne jelly, then add a slice of strawberry on top of the strawberry jelly, pour over the remaining champagne jelly and set.